A paper presented to the Project Management Symposium on PM: Project Manager Role Evolution, Rome, Italy, 2004.

Updated 7/3/04

"PMI" and "PMBOK" are the registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute.
Published here September 2004.

PART 2 | Introduction | Individual Capabilities in Project Management
U.S. Government Project Management Certification Initiatives
Project Teams | The "Profession" of Project Management | PART 4

U.S. Government Project Management Certification Initiatives

In the U.S. a number of federal government agencies have project management certification initiatives under way, including the Department of Defense/DOD and its Defense Acquisition University/DAU, Department of Energy/DOE, and the Office of Management and Budget/OMB (PMI Today Aug. 2003 p 1, 5). The most advanced U.S. governmental agency that best represents the state of the art in this aspect of project management appears to be by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration/NASA, which several years ago established the NASA Academy of Program and Project Leadership/APPL (http://www.appl.nasa.gov).

NASA APPL has implemented a Project Management Development Process/PMDP that leads to APPL certification of individuals within NASA at four levels of competence:

  1. Project Engineer/Team Member: Supports basic project needs .
  2. Subsystem Manager: Manages in-house or contractor sub-system for a larger system.
  3. System Manager: Manages complex system development of several subsystems to be integrated from parallel efforts (both in-house and contracted) in a team environment.
  4. Program Manager: Manages total program/complex project of many subsystems over longer period of time, both in-house and contractor work, possibly international. (Source: The NASA Program/Project Management Development Process flowchart, Feb. 2000.)

This process is based on ten "competency categories" covering many individual competencies, plus a large number of individual "knowledges and skills," and is supported by 27 internal NASA training courses. All NASA Civil Servant employees are eligible to participate in this development process.

Licensing of Individual Practitioners in the Project Management "Profession"

Most legally recognized "professions " around the world have formal, official licensing procedures and practices in place, many required by federal, state, or provincial law (engineering, medicine, law, accounting, and others.) To date no country is known to have established legal licensing requirements for the practice of project management. Although this subject has been discussed in PMI and IAPM forums, a cursory search of the public records of minutes of the PMI Board of Directors meetings indicates no record of any official discussions of this subject within that body. A debate is under way presently in the U. K. about the desirability of obtaining a Royal Charter there for APM, which, if achieved, might be a forerunner to some form of government licensure.

In the U.S. and Canada, and probably also in Western European countries, the most likely scenario for licensing project managers or project management specialists, if it ever occurs, will be connected in some way with registered engineers at the state or province levels, perhaps with some sort of cooperative arrangements between the professional engineering and architectural associations (ASME, AIEE, ASCE, AIA, and others in the U.S., and the Engineering Institute in Canada), in my opinion. Such licensing will need to be for very specific types or categories of projects.

"The chartered institutions in the UK are undergoing change recognizing the need for an umbrella organization and all engineering institutions there are now also a part of an Engineering Council or EC (UK). Qualified members of the subscribing Institutions may apply for registration and use of the designation CEng (Chartered Engineer) after their name" (Wideman 2003).

In the absence of governmental or other licensure there is a serious question about the validity of calling the practice of project management a "profession". This topic is discussed further under "The 'Profession' of project management".

Individual Capabilities in Project Management  Individual Capabilities in Project Management

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